Julie Roginsky, a Fox News Channel contributor who was best known, perhaps, for her appearances on the cable-news outlet’s “The Five”and “Outnumbered,” raised new allegations of sexual harassment at Fox News Channel in a lawsuit detailing her account of being harassed by former Fox News chief Roger Ailes and then discriminated against in retaliation. Her complaints are the latest in a parade of disturbing grievances levied at the 21st Century Fox-owned outlet, which ousted Ailes last year after similar charges were made by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson.
Spokespersons for Fox News Channel and 21st Century Fox were not able to offer immediate comment on Roginsky’s suit, which was filed Monday in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The suit was filed against Fox News Channel, Ailes and Bill Shine, a longtime staffer who is currently co-president of the network. In a memo to staffers Monday, Fox News’ human resources chief told employees, “We want to give you every opportunity to be heard” about workplace concerns.
“We look forward to a public trial in front of a jury in New York City,” said Nancy Erika Smith of the Smith Mullin law firm in Montclair N.J. Smith represented Carlson in her lawsuit against Ailes. Carlson was awarded as much as $20 million in a settlement after alleging Ailes had subjected her to sexual come-one and other unwanted behavior. Her lawsuit sparked an internal investigation that resulted in lurid disclosures from several current and former Fox News employees about Ailes’ behavior. Since that matter was resolved, 21st Century Fox has offered settlements to other female staffers. In an unrelated matter, The New York Times reported Saturday that Bill O’Reilly, the network’s star anchor, has also faced allegations of unwanted and inappropriate behavior from female employees.
Ailes has denied all allegations of sexual harassment. O’Reilly, in a statement released Saturday, said he was “vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department.”
Roginsky’s lawsuit would seek compensatory and punitive damages. among other things. She does not have an arbitration agreement with Fox News according to a statement from her attorneys, who noted the company invoked such contracts in the past to keep similar matters from reaching the courts.
In the suit, Roginsky, a longtime political consultant who began to work as a contributor and panelist at Fox News starting in 2004, said she began to appear regularly on “The Five” in 2015. She alleged Ailes began to meet with her in private in his office and made remarks to her of a sexual nature. In one conversation, she alleged, Ailes implied he would give her a permanent slot on “The Five” in exchange for sexual favors. She refused, and did not meet with Ailes following that episode. She also alleged she was not advised by any Fox News executive to contact attorneys at the Paul, Weiss law firm who were conducting the internal investigation sparked by Carlson’s allegations, and said she refused to take part in defending Ailes in public as other employees had done after Carlson’s lawsuit surfaced.
Roginsky has “suffered damage to her career path” as well as “adverse job consequences,” the lawsuit alleges.
Her lawsuit alleges a bizarre conversation with Shine, in which the executive is said to have likened the senior team at Fox News to the country-rock band The Eagles. At a meeting held in late November of last year, the lawsuit alleged, Shine told Roginsky that the story of Fox News was similar to the origins of that popular band. Just as Glenn Frey, Linda Rondstadt and Jackson Browne had come together at a particular moment in time to help give rise to the Eagles, the lawsuit alleges Shine said, so too had Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, two veteran Fox News hosts; Suzanne Scott, the network’s head of programming; and Shine and Ailes joined to create Fox News Channel.
Fox News often generates chatter and, sometimes, backlash, as its high-rated primetime anchors offer no-holds-barred takes on the news cycle. But in recent weeks, the network has been at the center of a maelstrom, thanks to the disclosure of several settlements related to behavior other than Ailes’; the dismissal of a comptroller after claims of racist behavior; and comments from a contributor, former New Jersey judge Andrew Napolitano, that implied British intelligence agents had President Trump under surveillance before the election. When the President repeated those remarks, it sparked an international incident.